Priests prepare for first Palm Sunday with empty pews

Coronavirus

For the first time in our lifetimes, there will not be public services through Holy Week

(WKBN) – Palm Sunday is this weekend — it’s the start of Holy Week, which ends with Easter. For the first time in our lifetimes, there will not be public services.

“It was shocking. Sort of unbelievable. It didn’t sink in,” said Father Bob Edwards, with St. Paul in Salem.

“It’s an absolute shock,” said Monsignor Michael Cariglio, of Mount Carmel in Youngstown. “I’ve never experienced it. In my 49 years of a priest, anything like this in any way, shape or form.”

Priests will be performing Mass — but to empty pews.

Online Palm Sunday and Easter services in the Valley

“It’s very different. It’s strange,” Edwards said.

“You learn quickly that the Mass is the priest with the people and the people with the priest,” Cariglio said.

He isn’t just worried for the people in this country — he’s Italian.

“I have people and relatives in Italy. I’m worried about them. I haven’t heard about them,” Cariglio said.

Edwards said his parishioners are also worried.

“What I see is a lot more fear. That seems to be what I’ve noticed. A lot more fear in people.”

Both men are telling people to listen to what the experts are saying. Still, when church is back in session…

“I’m going to be greatly excited and I think I’ll jump for joy. Maybe we’ll get some balloons and flowers,” Edwards said.

“How will I feel? I’m afraid I’m going to be jumping up and down, and say, ‘Hallelujah!'” Cariglio said.

On Friday, the Catholic Bishops of Ohio extended the suspension of all publicly-celebrated Masses through May 3.

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